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Barely a year after it opened, the 365 By Whole Foods store in Bellevue, Washington, will close this weekend.

The store, located at one end of an upscale mall in a city just east of Seattle, was the third of the format opened by Whole Foods as an attempt to combat its “whole paycheck” image and attract millennials with a greater emphasis on technology and private label. (The first two were in the Los Angeles and Lake Oswego, Oregon; those remain open, as do three other locations.)

Whole Foods Global PR Director Robin Kelly issued a statement saying that “the decision was made by company leadership prior to the Amazon merger after careful evaluation of both store performance and the site challenges that exist for successfully operating a grocery store … We remain committed to the 365 format, and will continue to sign new leases and open stores in a variety of markets, including Concord in the San Francisco Bay area (opening Dec. 6) and our first New York City location in Fort Greene (opening in early 2018).”
KC's View:
As you can see from previous MNB coverage, I’ve never been wildly impressed with the 365 stores that I’ve seen, and thought that the Bellevue store was the worst of the three that had been opened to that point. None of them, I thought, really delivered on the value promise that they were making, and the Bellevue unit seemed like an awful fit for the location. (It happened to be a location that a variety of other retailers had turned down.)

That said, I actually think that the company does remain committed to the 365 format, and that Amazon will use it to test a variety of concepts and initiatives that then can be expanded to the main fleet. Because it is a small subset of the larger company, it is possible to try things faster there and gauge what works and does not, and then move on.